Pride and Humility


T'ang Dynasty (a.d. 618-905)

I'm but a sea-bird, wandering here alone,
And dare not call the ponds and lakes my own;
But what are those two lovely birds on high,
Shining resplendent 'gainst the morning sky?
Upon the top bough of the San-Chu tree,
Presumptuously they build that all may see;
Their feathers than the iris lovelier far,
What if a missile should their beauty mar!
Such brilliant robes, which they with joy expose,
Might well excite the envy of their foes;
And even the gods may view with dire disdain
The high ambition of the proud and vain.
Now I in quiet obscurity can roam
Far from my nest, flecked by the ocean's foam;
Yet, in a world where greed is always rife,
No one would raise a hand to take my life.